“The perks, baby. What about the perks?” Ah, just love those candidate questions during an interview. Yes, that’s verbatim from an interview I had some years back. I understand the desire for perks. I like to have them myself. But what perks are the perks to percolate? (See what I did there?) It’s bound to be different for different organizations filled with a varied population.
When Fern (Frances McDormand) takes her role as a temporary employee at Amazon, one of the perks is the lot rental for her RV. Now while a lot fee being paid for by your company may not seem like a desired perk, it is for those whose daily lives are connected to their RV. Nomadland was a film inclusive of a few uncommon perks for workers while it showcased the geographic subculture of RV living. For the nomads involved, those perks meant so much.
When companies in metropolitan areas offer commuter benefits to employees, they are often influenced by law much more so than by having an eye towards the needs of their team. Mandated perks aren’t perks of the company; they are entitlements legislated by local officials. Think about health benefits. If your organization has 50 or more Full Time Equivalents working and it’s offering medical benefits, they are doing so out of compliance to the Affordable Care Act. They must provide the option.
That’s why in today’s market, candidates are looking for the extras. The extras often tell them about the values of the company without having to read the values of the company. If a company has an option for life insurance, pet insurance, adoption support, student loan repayment or one of many other creative options, that may be an indicator as to what a company cares about or is like. It is not the only way to understand an organization; it is a way.
Is your organization open to specialized perks? With the difficulty in finding qualified candidates for open roles as well as the roller coaster of the COVID pandemic, businesses have every reason to be creative in perks. Think about what might matter to your staff. In addition to considering those things, ask your team. It’s ok. You can ask them.
Some business owners and executives get a bit nervous about surveying or asking employees about desired perks. The worry is that if we ask and don’t deliver them, they’ll become disgruntled and disengaged. Yes, that could happen, but the way to best handle that is the upfront context. Let the team know there can’t be a guarantee that the things shared will be implemented. Part of the information will assist in future spend and budget planning, but part of it may influence picking one perk that can be offered sooner. You should be ready to do something, but not everything. There is a difference. It’s not an all or nothing setup as long as you really set it up.
There is no way anyone can know what everyone would consider a perk. For some, it’s an extra day of PTO. For some, it’s an expanded EAP. For others still, it could be daycare cost assistance. It can vary based on preference, season of life and interest. This is an opportunity to be creative and considerate simultaneously.
Oh, what happened with the candidate who wanted to know about the perks? He wound up being the candidate we offered a role to which he accepted. He then excelled at his work and entered the management training track where he built a talented team that upped performance by 16% for the department. The perk he liked best? A covered parking spot. He didn’t want rain to hit his car, baby.